[Sounds like: Adele, Holly Palmer, Alicia Keys]
She's young, she's driven, and she's filled with sass. Her name is ZZ Ward, and she's no stranger to Beat Dropping. We featured her mixtape, "11 Roses," a while back, and I was fortunate enough to recently exchange a few words with ZZ despite her busy schedule. In the few questions asked, we managed to cover everything from Instagam to her hip-hop influences, and on to her upcoming work - an EP out now and a new album due in September. Hit the jump below to read through our conversation and get to know this bluesy diva a little better...
Beat Dropping: Hey ZZ. So I've read through a bunch of interviews featuring yourself and I'm noticing a lack of originality with the questions. I'm not here to bore you or waste your time, so I'm gonna try and keep this one original, fun. I'm just trying to be "Ray Charles to all the bullshit" out there...
ZZ Ward: Love it! Lol.
You've got some attitude. There's no question about it and it shows in your music. It's edgy and it's aggressive. In the past year, people have started to really pay you some attention and I think it's safe to say it's because your sound is so refreshing. Obviously you're not one to conform, but has there ever been a point where you've been unsure of whether or not the public will accept you?I don't think that's something an artist can ever be sure of. I think if you try to please other people with the music you create, you will end up dissatisfied. I just make music that is true to me. I would rather the public not accept me for who I really am than accept me for something I'm not.
And that attitude has been there since the beginning - I read that you started out selling your music in parking lots and at fairs when you were just starting out. Talk a little about that.
It was not something that came natural to me, walking up to strangers and talking to them about my music but sometimes, you have to do things you don't want to in order to get by. In retrospect, I'm thankful for it all because I think it made me stronger.
Your dad was all about the blues; he taught you how to play the harmonica and essentially how to sing. Your older brother was into the hip-hop scene. I've heard all about how the two have more or less molded your unique style, but I'm curious about the atmosphere back home. How'd your dad take Dr. Dre's encroachment on, say, Etta James's territory?
My mother didn't like me listening to music with cursing in it but my dad was pretty open minded to a lot of different kinds of music. He appreciated good songs regardless of genres.
So, Dr. Dre or Wu Tang Clan?
I gotta go with Dre.
You first dabbled in the hip-hop game when you would take to the logging roads and lay down hooks for rappers in Eugene. Do you remember your first hook?
Yes, I was so excited to write it but I remember being really nervous to record it with my lyrics scribbled on a notepad.
Name your top 5 artists that you would love to work with, dead or alive.
Willie Dixon, Salaam Remi, Jack White, BIG, Son house
Collaborating and sampling are nothing your shy of doing. On your mixtape, "11 Roses," you sampled a few rappers, but most interestingly, Tyler the Creator. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear his name?
Tyler as a man horse in his “Rella” video, amazing!
With your upcoming album (and EP), which is set to debut this summer, you kept the trend going and worked with some big names. Talk a little about it ie. production, content, expectations?
I worked with some amazingly talented people on my record: Ryan Tedder, Pete Rock, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Fitz from Fitz and the Tantrums and more. We had a great time working on these songs and I think that will go a long way. It's gritty honest music and I really hope people love it.
As I'm sure they will. With this album and with show after show, you've been extremely busy as of late. What's been the best touring moment so far?
Having fans in parts of the country I've never even been to before in the front rows at my shows singing all the lyrics.
The worst? I've heard you say that when you play a show, you never know how the audience will react. Has a show ever turned on you?
No, thankfully. I played a show at SXSW with no monitors in a bar – it was challenging.
What's the future looking like for Ms. Ward? Any plans after the album debuts?
Playing my music around the country and the world.
I'm gonna switch things up now. What is "dirty shine?"
Embracing who you are even if it's different.
Whiskey or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate with mallows.
Guitar because it's what I write on. It's how I start to tell my stories.
You're stepping away from the music scene for the weekend. What are you doing?
Movie, popcorn, blue slurpee.
How many photos have you taken with Instagram?
Hats or leather pants?
What's playing in your headphones right now?
We're watching Mike Epps on the tour bus.
Why should everyone follow beat dropping?
It's a dope website where you can find out about new music.
Download/purchase ZZ Ward's music HERE